By Judith Ryder
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
Have you ever heard of a “Stork Bus”? A Stork Bus is a “Mobile Pregnancy Center” that contains an ultrasound machine and can be driven around to various sites. In NYC, when a Stork Bus was parked outside an abortion clinic, 3 of every 5 women who entered it and had an ultrasound decided against abortion and in favor of life for their babies. When they saw their baby’s image on an ultrasound screen, heard their baby’s heartbeat over a speaker, and learned of other possible options from the knowledgeable personnel aboard, they began to imagine for the first time how they could possibly manage a crisis pregnancy after all. Considering that 84% of women who have had abortions thought abortion was their only option, these mobile units have already come a long way towards countering such a tragic misunderstanding.
About a year ago, Boston Center for Pregnancy Choices (formerly Daybreak) purchased a handsome blue bus, its sides colorfully emblazoned with attractive graphics and the information: “Bostonstorks.com”, and “Free Mobile Medical Clinic”. This bus has had results similar to NYC’s bus. On loan to the RI Right to Life Committee (RIRTL) for its 2015 Stork Bus Banquet held May 21st, Boston’s bus made a great impression during its guest appearance inside the Grand Ballroom of Warwick’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. Approximately 125 very enthusiastic pro-lifers, each of whom had paid $100 ($175 per couple) to attend, thoroughly enjoyed the occasion, many taking the opportunity to tour the bus.
Entering the ballroom, guests sampled hot hors d’oeuvres while mingling or standing in line for their tour; the Stork Bus was on exhibition all evening. The luxurious Mercedes-Benz bus, built with the chassis and engines of the Mercedes Sprinter, was custom made to the unique specifications of a comfortable Mobile Pregnancy Center. Its features include AC, refrigerator, bathroom, two leather massage chairs, internet connections, several TV screens used for educational counseling, exam bed, and a 3-D ultrasound machine capable of showing true life anatomy. On hand for the event was a knowledgeable representative from G. E. Healthcare and the Ultrasound Division, which supplies ultrasound imaging machines. While demonstrating the high quality images produced by the 3-D ultrasound machine, she responded to many questions about it, explaining that it costs about $50,000, the 3-D images are so detailed that in some cases they can even detect family resemblances, it can identify a pregnancy at 5 weeks, and displays the image of an unborn baby as early as 6 weeks. Down Syndrome screenings and blood work for expectant mothers begin at 13 weeks, with other screenings between 13 and 15 weeks.
Dr. Anne McDonald, Ph.D, Educational Outreach Coordinator for RIRTL, began the program by introducing its participants. Rev. Fr. Brian Sistare, Sacred Heart Parish, gave the Invocation and asked God’s blessing on the food. Next Barth Bracy, Ph.B., S.T.B., Executive Director and lobbyist for the RI Right to Life Committee, welcomed honored guests including former First Lady Marguerite Garrahy, Cranston Mayor Alan Fung, Cranston State Representative Robert B. Lancia, Hon. William McKenna, Attorney Keven McKenna, and several other clergy: Pastor John Teeter, Glad Tidings Church; Pastor Diane Caracciolo, Providence Life Center; Pastor Steve Robinson, Cross Point Church; Rev. Michael Kelly, Precious Blood Parish and, from Beacon Avenue Church of God, Pastor James Turnipseed, who would later close the evening with prayer.
Bracy then introduced the Stork Bus to the crowd and showed a video about its history. Bracy is passionate about his vision of using this Bus to bring hope and help directly to abortion-vulnerable women who need it most. He plans to park it on or near every RI college campus for a half day each week. To gain access to college campuses, RIRTL will tie up with campus ministry organizations who agree to sponsor them. Bracy also intends to park the Stork Bus outside RI’s two abortion clinics on Broad Street and Point Street in hopes of attracting women coming for abortions. Hopefully the presence of the bus and empathetic, knowledgeable personnel will encourage these women to consider other options before entering the abortion clinics. The Stork Bus would also visit churches and other public venues. Staffed by kind and friendly medical professionals, the Stork Bus will offer free counseling, pregnancy tests, and ultrasounds, and allow expectant mothers to keep their ultrasound pictures.
Dr. Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D, RIRTL’s Education Committee Chair and one of RIRTL’s ten distinguished Board Members, then showed guests another video and explained more about how revolutionary this new piece of life-saving technology truly is. Next came a particularly heartwarming part of the banquet. Three girls, all active in working to protect life here in RI, read real-life testimonies provided by three young girls from around the country. Each girl had experienced a change of heart after seeing her baby on an ultrasound screen and hearing its heartbeat over the speaker. Due to these life-changing encounters, each woman decided against having an abortion, finding hope and help instead for themselves and their baby. The three girls who read the other girls’ testimonies, and who themselves make such a difference in supporting pro-life here in RI, are Safie Lamin, the winner of RIRTL’s 2015 pro-life Oratory Contest, and whom RIRTL will send to New Orleans this July to represent RI in the National Pro-life Oratory Contest; Lauren Galvan, the Founder and President of Students for Life at Brown University; and Amelia Lusignon, who has participated in RIRTL Essay Contests and 2014’s Summer Academy.
Concluding the program, Barth Bracy returned to issue a sober challenge to everyone. He asked each person to help raise $1,000 apiece by distributing at least ten fund-raising fliers to family, friends, and neighbors, inviting them to “get on board” with RIRTL to bring mobile ultrasounds and pregnancy tests to RI. The flier contains information about this exciting new technology, and explains how to contribute to its becoming a reality here in RI.
Bracy motivated the audience by speaking of how God used Gideon’s Army, as recorded in the Bible (Judges 6&7), to confound the Midianites, the Israelites’ enemies who had come against them “as grasshoppers…without number…”. But when the angel of the Lord approached Gideon to be the leader of the Israelites, assuring him that the Lord was with him, at first Gideon shrank from the responsibility, saying he was just a poor man and the least in his father’s house. However, by means of various signs, Gideon eventually became persuaded that the Lord was indeed calling him to lead a great work. Nevertheless, in order to preserve the truth that He, and not the warriors themselves, would accomplish this amazing and miraculous rout of the Midianites, God systematically pared down Gideon’s Army from an initial 32,000 to only 300 vigilant and faithful men, promising that He would deliver the massive number of Midianites into their hands.
Drawing a parallel, Bracy indicated his belief that God may be calling a comparatively few dedicated pro-life servants, rather than the much larger number of people one might think would be necessary, to raise the significant sum of $125,000. Success in finding the money needed to deploy the Stork Bus would make it obvious to everyone that God was in this.
Bracy is convinced that it is God’s will for RI to have a Stork Bus, and therefore pro-lifers must attempt this and every other avenue to save babies, mothers, and families from abortion, even when it requires a leap of faith. He added that for many years RIRTL has walked by faith, not by sight, and he trusts the Lord to bring to completion the good work He has begun in them. As Bracy sat down, pro-life students visited every table, leaving ten-packs of fliers for all the enthusiastic, newly motivated guests to distribute to likely donors among their acquaintances.
In addition to helping women in crisis pregnancies, RIRTL is active in several other arenas, including Legislative Work, Political Action, and Education. A familiar presence in the halls of the RI State House and with the members of the RI Congressional delegation, RIRTL lobbyists advocate for legislation to protect the innocent lives of the pre-born, the elderly, the disabled, and the infirm. They support restoring legal protections to all pre-born babies through enacting federal and state human life amendments, but until that happens, they support incremental legislation to limit the devastating harm resulting from the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions. RIRTL opposes all efforts to legalize both direct euthanasia (also known as “mercy-killing”) or indirect euthanasia, whether by “physician-assisted suicide” or denial of care based on quality of life. Although RIRTL opposes embryo-destroying experimentation, they enthusiastically promote ethical alternatives such as adult stem cells and iPS cells. RIRTL’s legislative work is responsible for RI having the most protective pro-life laws in New England.
RIRTL is an affiliate and member of the board of directors of the National Right to Life Committee which lobbies in Washington, D. C. and provides an invaluable resource and clearinghouse of accurate information for its 50 state affiliates and 3,000 local chapters. RIRTL has both a Federal and a State Political Action Committee (PAC), allowing them to identify, endorse, and actively assist candidates who support their pro-life legislative package. They also campaign against those candidates who oppose their efforts on behalf of life.
Believing that young people are the key to our future, RIRTL focuses on educating high school and college students to ensure the continued vitality of the pro-life movement. To this end, RIRTL organizes Oratory, Essay, and Video Contests, Conferences, a Summer Academy, and Workshops on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, and civics. Student Internships are currently available in several areas.
A brand new resource provided by RIRTL is its Culture of Life Speakers Bureau. Staffed by seven highly educated, well-informed individuals, all experts in their respective fields, the Speakers Bureau is presently seeking venues for these speakers. Some topics are: “Pro-Life Politics, Policy & Legislation”; “The Happy Confluence of Religion & Politics”; “Dead to Rights: Why There Can Be No Such Thing as a Right to Assisted Suicide”; “Human Life: Defending a Precious Gift”; “Ecology and Abortion”; “A History and (Possible) Future of Pro-Life Public Policy in RI”; “Abortion and the Feminine Voice”; “Rights by Stealth – the Campaign for an International Human Right to Abortion”; and “The Life and Death of Nations: Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics”.
This year marks RIRTL’s 45th year as a credible resource for RI women with unplanned crisis pregnancies. Since 1970, RIRTL has helped save many, many lives at their Pregnancy Center and, since establishing Right to Life Services, Inc. in 1979, nearly 1,000 mothers and families every year have been offered compassion, friendship, referrals to other resources, and generous material assistance such as diapers, maternity and baby clothing, blankets, formula and baby food, bassinets, and more. Yet, Bracy laments, they still miss far too many hurting women who don’t come into their office. He foresees the Stork Bus traveling from Westerly to Woonsocket, from Middletown to Burrillville – even to private homes, if needed – in short, going wherever babies are endangered, and doing whatever it takes to save their lives.
To be a part of the high calling of saving babies, why not “get on board” RIRTL’s exemplary mission to bring a Stork Bus to RI by sending a (tax-deductible) donation to: Right to Life Services, P. O. Box 28285, Providence, RI 02908. To learn more ways to help, call the RIRTL office at (401) 521-1860.
”And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27